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Federations Magazine Article
Drawing the federal map of Nepal

have a “federal
system of governance”. The Constituent
Assembly has the task of filling these
words with life.
The debate on federalism in Nepal is
active and heated. One of the hardest
nuts to crack seems to be these two
questions: “What will be the basis of
federalism in Nepal?” and “Should Nepal
adopt ethnic federalism or would this be
a recipe for disaster?”
N The current territorial organisation is
easier to map. For administrative
purposes, Nepal is currently divided into
about 4,000 Village Development
Committees (VDCs) and municipalities
at the local level as well as 75 districts, 14
zones and five development regions.
Actual decentralization, however –
national legislation aimed at devolving
powers to VDCs and municipalities – was
never fully implemented. Nepal has
remained a highly centralized state.
Federalism shall change this.
Now the questions get tougher. In the
coming months, the Constituent
Assembly (CA) is expected to establish a
new, middle level of government. It is not
clear yet what these new constituent units
will be called. Currently, the terms
‘province’ and ‘state’ are most frequently
used. The introduction of federalism shall
vest the to-be-created constituent units
with their own powers and resources as well
as with special representation at the centre.
In any discussion, whether among
political actors, civil society leaders,
Dr. Nicole Töpperwien works as an expert on federalism with the Forum of Federations; since 2006 she has been involved in peacebuilding
programs through